From cognitive to neural models of working memory.

D’Esposito.  2007.  From cognitive to neural models of working memory., 2007 May 29. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological Sciences. 362(1481):761-772.


Working memory refers to the temporary retention of information that was just experienced or just retrieved from long-term memory but no longer exists in the external environment. These internal representations are short-lived, but can be stored for longer periods of time through active maintenance or rehearsal strategies, and can be subjected to various operations that manipulate the information in such a way that makes it useful for goal-directed behaviour. Empirical studies of working memory using neuroscientific techniques, such as neuronal recordings in monkeys or functional neuroimaging in humans, have advanced our knowledge of the underlying neural mechanisms of working memory. This rich dataset can be reconciled with behavioural findings derived from investigating the cognitive mechanisms underlying working memory. In this paper, I review the progress that has been made towards this effort by illustrating how investigations of the neural mechanisms underlying working memory can be influenced by cognitive models and, in turn, how cognitive models can be shaped and modified by neuroscientific data. One conclusion that arises from this research is that working memory can be viewed as neither a unitary nor a dedicated system. A network of brain regions, including the prefrontal cortex (PFC), is critical for the active maintenance of internal representations that are necessary for goal-directed behaviour. Thus, working memory is not localized to a single brain region but probably is an emergent property of the functional interactions between the PFC and the rest of the brain.



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